Program aimed at preventing youths from falling short of goals

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 25, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

A Youth Prevention Program is in session here.

The program is being conducted by Mary McKay, a counselor from Union County, N.J. The age range to enroll is 10 to 18 years old.


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McKay began it at Woods Corner in Washington Square Mall in June with seven young ladies already enrolled.

According to her, the program is designed to help youths develop talents in modeling, acting, dancing, poetry reading, character-building, and respecting others. Sessions are held from 6 to 8 p.m. every Tuesday.

McKay said that she did some runway modeling for designers in New York and New Jersey and also did some acting while she was in high school. She has experience in counseling youths and families and working in the field of social service, and that her goal is to open up a community center here in Suffolk for them. However, she is starting out this way in hopes that these plans escalate into something bigger.

&uot;A lot of youths want to become doctors, lawyers and some even want to be singers, actors, and models. With the peer pressure the way it is today without some kind of guidance, some teens may get off track and fall short of these goals. However, my program will help to build self-esteem and instill certain values that I feel will keep them on track to fulfill their goals&uot; she said.

McKay attended public school in New Jersey and attended Bloomfield College in Bloomfield, N.J. with a major in psychology. She said that in the future she is planning to enroll in Regent University to obtain her master’s degree in psychology and counseling because she likes that kind of work. She also has two businesses – a commercial janitorial service that employs seven and a convenient neighborhood grocery store on Spruce Street.

She has one 26-year-old daughter who is living in New Jersey who graduated from Rutgers University in Newark, N.J. with a major in computer information systems.

McKay said that when she opens the community center here, it will be like no other one ever held because it will sponsor many activities, teach self-esteem and place emphasis on reaching goals.

Early prevention means just that – teaching youths about violence, teen pregnancies, alcoholism, and subjects like this and how to prevent these situations.

&uot;In other words, I believe interacting in one way will take care of another. I don’t think that there is another center here that is teaching teens this way. I am going to teach prevention while teaching them how to model and act.

&uot;We appreciate Jonetta Woods for letting us use her facility each Tuesday.

&uot;We also have a board of directors that include four people at the present time and we are seeking board members to join in this mission to help youth.

Girls may still register to attend between 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. by calling 934-7700 or 343-2775. The one-time registration fee is $10 and parental permission is required.